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Calif. Wildfire Embers Ignite Home

July 9, 2002

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SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) _ Embers from a 150-acre wildfire torched a home two blocks from the firefront and damaged two others before firefighters were able to get the upper hand on the flames.

Residents were evacuated from about 200 homes in this suburban Los Angeles city. At one point, flames were within 30 feet of several back yards.

Shortly after it started, the fire split and jumped Highway 14. Flying embers then splintered off in several directions, threatening several homes. A section of the highway was closed for a few hours in both directions, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Officials had not determined the fire’s cause.

In Colorado, insurance officials said Monday they expect to pay a record $79.3 million for the destruction caused by four major wildfires in the state this season.

The claims are mostly for damaged or destroyed homes but may include some businesses, said Carole Walker of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

The previous record was $18.5 million in 2000, when a fire southwest of Denver and another east of Rocky Mountain National Park together charred more than 20,000 acres and destroyed or damaged at least 70 homes.

The two most destructive fires in Colorado this season together burned about 213,000 acres and destroyed at least 189 homes.

Elsewhere in the West:

_In Wyoming, wind gusts up to 40 mph Monday caused a wildfire on the Wind River Indian Reservation to gain ground. The strong wind forced all four helicopters dumping water on the 13,900-acre blaze fire to retreat to base.

_A 6,000-acre wildfire burning in steep, rocky terrain near the Chiricahua mountains in southeastern Arizona was about 80 percent contained Monday.

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